How To create an XML Sitemap in WordPress Website
Before we learn how to create an XML sitemap lets talk about what is Sitemap. Since I tried to make this website beginner-friendly we will start with the basics so let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What Is XML Sitemap
A sitemap is an XML file which informs the search engine about the pages and the URLs of a website that are available for crawling. It also tells the search engine which part or link of your website is more important and how often you update it.
This allows search engine web crawlers like Googlebot to crawl and read the file of your website more intelligently.
But I would like to clear things regarding the indexing of pages. The search engine like Google will not index your page until :
1. They found and crawl them.
2. They consider them good enough to be worth indexing.
3. The sitemap does not boost the search ranking of a website it just improves the crawling and indexing of your website.
Having said that, by submitting an XML sitemap to search engine, you are giving clue that the pages in the XML sitemap are of a good quality landing page.
A Sitemap of a website looks similar to the below screenshot.
Do I Need a Sitemap
From an SEO point of view, a sitemap is important. Particularly if your website meets one of the following criteria.
- If your site is new: Most of the new blog/ website don’t get backlinks to their post, it becomes difficult for the search engine to discover all the posts and pages of the website.
- If your site is really large: If your website is really large/ huge, its more likely search engine web crawls might overlook the newly updated or added pages of your website.
- If your site has a large archive: If your website has a large archive and are isolated or not well linked to each other, you can list them in a sitemap to ensure that Google does not overlook some of your pages.
However, using sitemap does not guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed.
How To Create A Sitemap On WordPress Website
There are several ways to create an XML sitemap for WordPress website. But I will show you the easiest way.
At ElegantEspace, I have used the Yoast SEO plugin to create our sitemap. Since, it allows us to optimize our website along with other features like social integration, meta descriptions and much more.
To get started first of all you need to install and activate Yoast Seo Plugin. Upon activation go to the dashboard of your WordPress admin panel click on SEO followed by General and enable the XML Sitemap button under Features tab. (As shown below)
Once you enable the functionality button, click on save changes. This way you can create your sitemap.
To view your sitmap_index.xml files click on the XML Sitemap question mark button on the same page (for reference see the above screenshot).
How To Tell Google About The Sitemap
You can submit your sitemap to Google by using Google Search Console To do so, first of all, go to Google Search Console and add the URL of your website.
Upon adding the URL you will be asked to verify the ownership of the website you were trying to add.
You will get two methods for site verification: Domain name and URL prefix. I recommend the URL prefix method because it is more flexible.
Enter the URL of your website make sure you’re using the correct protocols.
Because Google considers an HTTP and HTTPS as two different protocols. It also considers https://www.example.com and https://example.com as two different websites.
Once you add your website you will get a few options to verify the ownership of the website you are adding.
You can go with the recommended method however, I suggest you go with the alternate method (This is the most reliable way).
To do so go to other verification methods followed by ‘HTML tag’.
Now copy the verification key code* part (the value inside the content = “*“) then go to the WordPress admin panel and click on SEO followed by webmaster tools and paste the copied key code next to Google verification code (as shown in the screenshot).
After this step, go back to Google search console tools site verification screen and click on the verify button. Once the website is verified you will get a popup message “Ownership auto verified”.
Click on Done to see the dashboard of webmaster tools.
Follow the below steps to add an XML sitemap to Google Search Console.
- Click on website URL
- Go to sitemap option
- Once you click on sitemap you will get an option of Add sitemap, click on that.
- Paste sitemap_index.xml
Once you successfully submit sitemap it will take few hours to crawl your website. After a while, it will start showing you the number of links it found, how many of them got indexed and stats of your website.
As your site gets older you will start seeing more and more data which will help you how well your site is performing and what else you can do to improves your site performance for the search engine.
I hope this article was able to clear your doubt regarding XML sitemap and helped you with installation steps.
Frequently asked questions
A search engine like Google uses an advanced algorithm to rank the web pages for their searchers.
But those algorithms still need your help to understand and rank the content of your web page properly.
If your content is not optimized, then the search engine will fail to rank your website and it won’t appear in the search result…
…because of this, you will miss out all the traffic related to your webpage.
So it is really important to do SEO for your website.
Before coming to this question it’s really important for us to understand what search engine exactly do.
A search engine like Google consists of :
- A crawler
- An Index and
- An algorithm
A crawler follows the link on the web 24/7 and saves the HTML version of a page in the database, called index.
The index will get updated automatically if Google comes to your website and found a new or revised version of it.
After indexing, Google will start showing your website in the search result.
Google has a complex algorithm that decides which pages are shown in which order.
How this algorithm works is a bit secret but you can start optimizing your website as per the new trends which will definitely help you in improving your web ranking dramatically.
(How exactly the search engine operates we will see in Chapter-1).
Yes, you can hire an SEO agency if they fit in below points:
- If you have enough budget – A good SEO agency will charge $100k for 12 months of project
- If they fit in your business model
- If they won’t lock you in contract
- If you are looking for long term success
- If you don’t have time for SEO
Of course, you can do it by yourself.
Depending on your commitment, learning enthusiasm, your willingness to learn, and how serious you are, you can do SEO of your website by yourself.
Even a small amount of knowledge can make a big difference.
Start learning now and believe me you will become a master in Search engine optimization.
A plugin like Yoast SEO has made things easier.
If you really want to learn and improve search traffic to your website I recommend you to read this guide completely (From chapter 1 to chapter 5).
Each chapter consists of valuable information skipping any topic may ruin all your effort.
In the next chapter, we will see how exactly search engine operates.